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article imageH1N1 swine flu is back: 14 dead, infected numbers doubling in UK

By Michael Krebs     Dec 21, 2010 in Health
Fears of a more virulent return of last year's H1N1 swine flu pandemic emerged in the United Kingdom this week as nearly 200 patients struggle to stay alive. Fourteen people have already lost their lives.
The H1N1 swine flu virus that had raced around the world last year, scrambling government health officials globally, has reappeared in a virulent cluster in the United Kingdom. The Daily Mail reported on Tuesday that 190 patients infected with the dynamic H1N1 bug were fighting for their lives - and that the number of patients admitted to intensive care due to the swine flu virus has doubled in the past week.
Of the 190 hospitalized with the infection, 17 required high-technology heart and lung machines to stay alive.
"We’ve seen an explosion in cases in the past two weeks," Chip Schaible, a director at SDI Healthcare, a group that cobbles data to model influenza infection rates, told Daily Mail. "It is one of the highest peaks we’ve seen in the past ten years and significantly higher than the five-year average for this time of year."
Citing a CNN report from early 2010, the 2009 outbreak of the H1N1 virus is thought to have killed 17,000 people in the United States alone, according to CDC estimates. According to Flucount.org, more than 25,000 people died worldwide due to exposure to the H1N1 virus - however, since the World Health Organization stopped counting the laboratory-confirmed cases at the peak of the virus, reliable figures of global deaths attributed to the virus do not exist.
The H1N1 challenge lies in its rapid adaptive ability and its deep penetration of lung tissues. H1N1 has been found in numerous species - including dogs, cats, birds, and people - and it has been able to move across the world at an unusually fast pace. While the H1N1 virus is considered relatively mild - compared to its H5N2 bird flu cousin - it features a disturbing appetite for pregnant women and children.
After the flu's initial sweep around the world, many people began to believe that the worst from H1N1 was behind them. As a result, many people opted out of the flu vaccines offered to them - as cited in the Sydney Morning Herald report on Australia's need to throw away $100 million worth of vaccines.
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